Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?
It starts out as something pretty simple: there’s a country, Al’Bora, trying to apprehend a rogue mage/pirate, the Ocean Spinner, who’s able to control water. A young knight named Sitor and a handful of companions (companions obtained through all sorts of shenanigans) are tasked with hunting him down. But the closer they get, the more complicated the group becomes: everyone has a different reason for wanting him dead, they’re all keeping secrets, and betrayal seems inevitable. What was once a rather straightforward quest ends up devolving into a desperate struggle to keep the group together long enough to face the Ocean Spinner.
What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
BookBaby, and… well, sorta. The site itself was awkward and clunky at points, but the customer service we received was excellent. Trying to maneuver the process to format a pdf was a chore until we gave up our pride and called their help desk–then everything was done in a matter of minutes. So A+ for the customer service, but B- for having to call them in the first place.
That being said, it’s entirely possible we’re both just idiots who don’t know how to use a computer. Everybody else may be geniuses who find the BookBaby website instructions on formatting to be the most intuitive thing on the face of the planet. We mostly only did publishing work when we were too sleep-deprived to edit, so it’s hard to tell.
Describe your self-publishing journey so far.
It started off with the Kickstarter campaign we began once our first draft was complete. As the funds were raised, we worked our way through the stages of editing. After managing to guilt enough friends and family into supporting the book, we got the funds we thought we needed to publish (although it turns out we grossly underestimated our actual costs), and had a nice couple of months that consisted of us drinking copious amounts of caffeine in an attempt to get the book out on time. During the final stage of editing we found more family and friends to draw pretty pictures for us, hence our beautiful cover and map. Now we’re here, trying to climb out of the Pits of Obscurity by having our flying monkeys write a bunch of articles and interviews for us.
What drove you to write this particular book?
This book is the first in a series called the Prodigal, a series we dreamed up a decade ago, when we were just kids hitting each other with toy lightsabers. Unlike us, it’s been growing and evolving since the day of its conception, and it’s become an inextricable part of our adult-childhood. Over the years we’ve revised and reworked it more times than we can count, nervous to release it until we’ve gotten ourselves to a confident level. We’re incredibly excited to tell this story, because we love it and hate being the only people excited about it.
Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?
We both love fantasy novels and thrillers, so our book is both–an odd combination. It’s a fantasy in the truest sense: it’s set in a different world that’s full of magic and monsters. It’s a thriller in the sense that it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and full of questions. You’re never quite sure who to trust, or if you ever are, you’re probably wrong.
One of the main things we’re trying to avoid with this series is turning it into a fantasy epic–there are a lot of great series out there that have great stories, but are off-putting with how huge the text is. If you’re not a dedicated reader, it’s no appealing task to pick up a thousand-page monstrosity (although that sort of thing is great for long-time fantasy lovers who’re looking for a world they can invest a lot of time into). Our book is a fantasy novel, but it’s delivered quickly enough to be approachable and easy-to-read.
Who are your greatest writing influences?
Of course as fantasy nerds we’ve been influenced by the titans of the genre: J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, and each of us have our own pool of more obscure books that we’ve read and pulled from. We rarely get to spend any time with each other unless we’re writing, so most of the inspiration that we both draw from come from tv series we’ve both watched together or things we tell each other about online: Firefly, Doctor Who, Community, Homestuck…the list goes on and on. These gave us fantastical stories and crazy characters that helped us form our own convoluted world. When it comes to crafting the plot and characters, anything can be inspiring. The actual writing is the only part that has to be inspired by actual reading.
What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
We prefer to take things at our own pace: when things get rushed, corners get cut. We want our work to be as good as it can be, especially since we’ve dedicated so much of our childhood to it. It goes in two stages: several months of relaxed first drafting, and then several more months of mad cramming as we edit. Generally, though, we move pretty quickly through the first stage, whether we’re determined to take it slow or not. It’s just too much fun writing the first draft of a new book. We would suggest to anybody who’s planning a writing regimen to have a single time of day to sit down and write: we were at our most productive when calling each other on Skype to edit the book every night at circa the same time.
Would you self-publish again?
We’d rather the next book of the series to be published traditionally for the exposure that it brings, but wouldn’t be completely opposed to self-publishing again.
Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?
Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need: it’s very easy to underestimate how long writing a book takes, as well as how long publishing it takes after you’ve already finished writing. Also, love your story. We’ve seen a lot of people self-publish and see their novels come to nothing–not because they didn’t want it to, or because they didn’t work hard, but because they were just publishing a book to…well, publish a book. We’re telling this story because we think it’s awesome-and that’s the only thing that makes it possible for our readers to think it’s awesome too.